It's a minefield of straight legs, synch-backs and drop-crotches out there, but Esquire's guide to denim is here to help.
After all, a pair of properly cut jeans can make even the most style-backwards man look cool.
By contrast, a bad pair (crotch fading, custom phone pocket) has the ability to do the opposite – remember the normally impeccable Barack Obama and his off-duty? Exactly.
1 | Skinny
The skinny jean–- after a decade and a half – is still going strong. Sent down the catwalks by Hedi Slimane in the late Nineties and skimming most waists by the mid-Noughties, the skinny jean is an icon.
How should you wear them? No surprise here but skinny jeans work best on leaner frames. In winter, team with plenty of layers on top to bulk out the look. Be careful not to go too tight, and make sure there’s enough fabric for you to move comfortably. Sausage-skin legs are not a strong look.
2 | Selvedge
Selvedge jeans are constructed from raw, unwashed denim and are designed to age naturally. Purists will advise not to wash for six months, but occasionally soaking your jeans in a bath of warm salt water will maintain the shape.
How should you wear them? Defined by an unseamed edge, stiff fabric and a turn-up, the rigidity of the fabric means that these jeans don’t sit too close to the body and stretch over time; straight leg versions suit most shapes. Team with equally simple garments (white shirts work well) to maintain the cleanness of the look.
3 | Carrot
Done well, this shape can give form to the most shapeless of torsos. Done badly and you’ll look like a member of a medieval dance troupe.
How should you wear them? The carrot’s defining characteristics are a skinny leg and looser crotch. If you’re not in a boyband or striving to be in one, this narrow, torso-altering style might not work for you; bulkier guys should avoid. Smarten the look up with a well-cut tweed jacket.
4 | Straight Leg
An original and a classic, the straight leg jean is a wardrobe essential. Adaptable and easy to wear in most washes; just be sure not to iron in a crease.
How should you wear them? The straight jean’s success depends on the quality of the fabric and the cut. It’s worth spending money on a classic pair; cheaper jeans will look it. This style can be worn by most men and will work as part of a smarter outfit (team with a blazer, plus lace-ups) or more casual looks; a polo, granddad or sweatshirt will work here.
5 | Workwear
The original jean, designed for physically active men of industry. These days this shape is more a style statement than anything else.
How should you wear them? Worker styles should not be too baggy. If the shape is too loose you’ll need a skateboard to complete the look. Super-skinny and short men should steer clear. Team with a chambray or plaid shirt for the full workaday effect.
6 | Twisted
Twisted jeans – as long as they’re cut properly – are flattering and adaptable. Some styles tend to be over-adorned so go as simple as possible. The unusual shape is enough to give these jeans their character.
How should you wear them? The body contouring shape of these jeans will add a sense of definition, but skinnier frames tend to look drowned. Bring added definition to the look with a well-padded top half; chunky knits and quilting are both good options.